My husband and I recently returned from a trip with Africa Dream Safaris (ADS) and wanted to share the following information with anyone considering utilizing ADS’ services.
We decided to go on a Safari after we had to cancel a planned months-long backpacking expedition mid-trip due to numerous wildfires in the Western United States. We did not think ADS would be able to pull the Safari together given the tight time constraints we had but, after contacting ADS on Thursday, Dawn was able to put everything together, including airfare (big shout out to ADS flight coordinator Cathy King of Adventure Trips) by Sunday, and the following week, we were on our way.
Every aspect of the trip went flawlessly. We were met at Kilimanjaro Airport and, while everyone else waited in the customs line, we were whisked through by an ADS representative in just a few minutes. The hotel we stayed in the first two nights in Arusha (African Tulip) was extremely pleasant and quiet, and all staff were very professional, courteous and friendly (which was the hallmark of all staff we encountered throughout our trip).
The following morning, we were met in the hotel by ADS representative Precious, who thoroughly briefed us on our itinerary, who was going to escort us around, etc., and answered all questions we had concerning what we could expect on the trip. After touring the St. Jude School (highly recommended) in Arusha that day, the following morning we were driven to the Arusha Airport by ADS staff member Matise for a short flight to the Serengeti to begin our Safari. Again, everything went smoothly and exactly as we expected.
We were met at the Kogatende Airstrip near the Mara River (North Serengeti) by our guide, Michael, who would stay with us for the next seven days. Michael has been a guide for 20 years, and his experience definitely showed. Within the first seven hours, Michael showed us more animals than we thought possible including, hippos, elephants, giraffes, two black rhinos, a leopard, cape buffalo, impala, Thompson gazelles, elans, etc…, as well as a river crossing by wildebeest and zebras.
By the next morning, we crossed the remaining of the big five (elephant, lion, leopard, rhino, cape buffalo) off of our list when we got up close and personal with two young male lions (after watching another large male leopard on the river bank as the sun rose).
During that first full day at the Mara River, we also observed another male lion as he walked around our vehicle, more herbivores than we could possibly count, as well as four additional river crossings, during which an 18-foot Nile crocodile caught a small wildebeest as it attempted to swim back across the river.
Each ensuing day as we moved across the Serengeti was filled with similar wonders, including spending four hours watching a large leopard in a tree as he moved literally right above our vehicle (yet another reason to go with a private ADS Safari, as we weren’t beholden to a group of people who may not have been as patient), observing a female cheetah teaching her year-old daughter how to hunt gazelle, watching an alpha lioness stalking zebra at a watering hole, watching hyenas stalking wildebeest, observing the peaceful calm of multiple hippo pools and elephant herds, etc.
In fact, short of seeing a python fighting a lion, I’m not sure there was anything we missed seeing. Throughout all of this, Michael was amazing. Per our request, we would leave camp by six each morning (taking a box lunch), and not return to camp until between six and seven in the evening.
Michael spent each day patiently driving us throughout the Serengeti, providing us with a wealth of information concerning the animals we were seeing, the ecology of the region, geography and geology, and generally entertaining us. It is still a wonder to us how he spotted some of the animals that he did. All in all, we could not have asked for a better guide and feel truly fortunate to have had the experience of exploring the Serengeti (and Ngorongoro Crater on the final day) with Michael.
As for the accommodations, they were simply amazing, particularly considering we were in the middle of the African bush. Each tent camp/lodge was immaculately maintained with running water in each tent, very comfortable king/queen size beds, writing desks, etc. One small regret we had was that because we spent so much time outside the camps each day, we were never able to fully appreciate just how comfortable each camp was.
As for the food, it was definitely exceptional. Each sit-down meal was a four-course service, and the box lunches were similarly outstanding and contained more food than we could eat. In addition, the staff at each camp deserve special recognition, as they were unfailingly professional, polite and friendly. We always felt extremely safe (even though we could hear lions, leopards and hyenas quite close to the camp at night), and it was a true pleasure interacting with the camp crew members.
At the conclusion of the Safari (exploring the amazing Ngorongoro Crater), Michael drove us back to Arusha and the African Tulip Hotel to clean up and grab an early dinner before our flight. In retrospect, we should have taken Dawn’s advice and booked that night in the hotel and flown out the following day, as not doing so made for a very long trip back to San Francisco. That said, we were once again well taken care of by ADS staff until we caught our flight back home.
When all was said and done, this was the most amazing trip either of us have been on (and I have travelled quite extensively around the world). We cannot recommend ADS any more highly and we will definitely be booking another trip with ADS in the not-too-distant future.
The fact remains that all the photos and videos in the world simply do not come close to experiencing the wonders you will see up close and personal on an ADS-led Safari. If this trip is remotely within your budget, we strongly encourage you to stop deliberating and take the journey – you will be very glad you did.
Suzann G. and Bruce M.
Fair Oaks, California
Safari Dates: August 22, 2017 to August 30, 2017